Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point

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This chronicle of daily life at the US Military Academy is “a fascinating, funny and tremendously well written account of life on the Long Gray Line” (Time).
 
In 1998, West Point made an unprecedented offer to Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky: Stay at the Academy as long as you like, go wherever you wish, talk to whomever you want, to discover why some of America’s most promising young people sacrifice so much to become cadets. Lipsky followed one cadet class into mess halls, barracks, classrooms, bars, and training exercises, from arrival through graduation. By telling their stories, he also examines the Academy as a reflection of our society: Are its principles of equality, patriotism, and honor quaint anachronisms or is it still, as Theodore Roosevelt called it, the most “absolutely American” institution?
 
During an eventful four years in West Point’s history, Lipsky witnesses the arrival of TVs and phones in dorm rooms, the end of hazing, and innumerable other shifts in policy and practice. He uncovers previously unreported scandals and poignantly evokes the aftermath of September 11, when cadets must prepare to become officers in wartime.
 
Lipsky also meets some extraordinary people: a former Eagle Scout who struggles with every facet of the program, from classwork to marching; a foul-mouthed party animal who hates the military and came to West Point to play football; a farm-raised kid who seems to be the perfect soldier, despite his affection for the early work of Georgia O’Keeffe; and an exquisitely turned-out female cadet who aspires to “a career in hair and nails” after the Army.
 
The result is, in the words of David Brooks in the New York Times Book Review, “a superb description of modern military culture, and one of the most gripping accounts of university life I have read. . . . How teenagers get turned into leaders is not a simple story, but it is wonderfully told in this book.”
 
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About the author

David Lipsky’s books have been Time magazine and NPR Best Books of the Year as well as New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. He has received the National Magazine Award and the GLAAD Media Award, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing and The Best American Short Stories. Lipsky is the author of 5 books, including Three Thousand Dollars, The Art FairAbsolutely American, and Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. In 2015, the latter became a motion picture directed by James Ponsoldt, starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. Lipsky currently teaches at New York University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Dec 16, 2014
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780547523750
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Military
History / Military / United States
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Army Ranger and bestselling author Kris Paronto reveals the values and creed shared by special forces for self-improvement and living a purposeful life.
When Kris Paronto began talking with civilians about his experiences fighting the terrorist attack on the US State Department Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, he was surprised at how often people told him that the story of his extraordinary battle gave them courage to face tough times in their everyday lives. "The odds were stacked against us that night but the truth is that we refused to quit and we beat them with faith, teamwork, and the principles that were first instilled in me when I joined the Army. You can find those in the Rangers Creed and the Army Values," he says, "and you don't have to be a Special Operations soldier to use them."
In The Patriot's Creed, Kris Paronto uses the seven core Army Values that all soldiers learn in Basic Combat Training, and the experiences of other servicemen and women and First Responders, to explain how anyone can improve themselves, the world around them, and live a heroic life. The stakes are dramatic for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to fight for America, and too many of their acts of courage and honor are unknown. The examples of their persistence and discipline will be inspiring to anyone facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
At a time of national polarization, Kris Paronto draws attention to values all readers can share and use, and to the honor, integrity and courage of true patriots who have gone to great lengths to protect and serve. They embody the best of us and make Kris Paronto proud to be an American soldier.
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, STARRING JASON SEGAL AND JESSE EISENBERG, DIRECTED BY JAMES PONSOLDT

An indelible portrait of David Foster Wallace, by turns funny and inspiring, based on a five-day trip with award-winning writer David Lipsky during Wallace’s Infinite Jest tour
 
In David Lipsky’s view, David Foster Wallace was the best young writer in America. Wallace’s pieces for Harper’s magazine in the ’90s were, according to Lipsky, “like hearing for the first time the brain voice of everybody I knew: Here was how we all talked, experienced, thought. It was like smelling the damp in the air, seeing the first flash from a storm a mile away. You knew something gigantic was coming.”

Then Rolling Stone sent Lipsky to join Wallace on the last leg of his book tour for Infinite Jest, the novel that made him internationally famous. They lose to each other at chess. They get iced-in at an airport. They dash to Chicago to catch a make-up flight. They endure a terrible reader’s escort in Minneapolis. Wallace does a reading, a signing, an NPR appearance. Wallace gives in and imbibes titanic amounts of hotel television (what he calls an “orgy of spectation”). They fly back to Illinois, drive home, walk Wallace’s dogs. Amid these everyday events, Wallace tells Lipsky remarkable things—everything he can about his life, how he feels, what he thinks, what terrifies and fascinates and confounds him—in the writing voice Lipsky had come to love. Lipsky took notes, stopped envying him, and came to feel about him—that grateful, awake feeling—the same way he felt about Infinite Jest. Then Lipsky heads to the airport, and Wallace goes to a dance at a Baptist church.

A biography in five days, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself is David Foster Wallace as few experienced this great American writer. Told in his own words, here is Wallace’s own story, and his astonishing, humane, alert way of looking at the world; here are stories of being a young writer—of being young generally—trying to knit together your ideas of who you should be and who other people expect you to be, and of being young in March of 1996. And of what it was like to be with and—as he tells it—what it was like to become David Foster Wallace.

"If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves.  To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself.  And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that.  I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it.  I know that sounds a little pious."
—David Foster Wallace
Eleven sparkling stories of family, love, and art from New York Times–bestselling author David Lipsky

My mother doesn’t know that I owe my father three thousand dollars.
 
From the opening line of the acclaimed title story—a Best American Short Stories selection that first appeared in the New Yorker—to the tender last scene of “Springs, 1977,” this pitch-perfect collection explores the unsteady terrain of early adulthood and the complex legacy of family. Self-aware, creatively ambitious, and just privileged enough to be acutely aware of all that they lack, Lipsky’s characters are as real and unforgettable as the dilemmas they face—some of their own making, some that the world has thrust on them.
 
In “Relativity,” a college junior transfers to the Ivy League in order to please his mother and make new friends; he quickly realizes the fault in his logic. In “Colonists,” a nervous young author searches for her muse at a New Hampshire writers’ retreat attended by a priest who pens erotic poetry and a composer working on a comic opera about the Alger Hiss trial. “ ‘Shh,’ ” the genesis of Lipsky’s highly praised novel The Art Fair, is the story of a dutiful son trying to shield his artist mother from the agony of her latest rejection.
 
Witty, heartbreaking, and wise, the stories in Three Thousand Dollars are a testament to David Lipsky’s exceptional talent and to the power of short fiction to transform the smallest of moments into the greatest of truths. 
An updated edition of the blockbuster bestselling leadership book that took America and the world by storm, two U.S. Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.

Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership—at every level—is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.

Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields.

Now, detailing the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment.

A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership revolutionizes business management and challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.

A poignant and painfully funny novel about the New York art world by the acclaimed author of Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

For two first-class years, Joan Freeley had it all: the perfect family, the best art dealer in Manhattan, and the admiration of famous friends. Her adoring husband and two handsome sons attended her first gallery show in matching khakis and blue blazers. “An Interesting Talent Makes Its Debut,” declared the New York Times. Then, as if her success were nothing more than a booking error, Joan’s life got downgraded. A brutal divorce led to paintings too bitter to sell and a career stuck firmly in coach.
 
Unable to see her suffer alone any longer, Joan’s teenage son Richard leaves his father and older brother in Los Angeles and moves in to her one-bedroom apartment in SoHo. At the gallery openings where she used to be a star, Richard discovers just how much his mother’s light has dimmed. She is an artist who is not showing—she might as well be invisible. To acknowledge her is to acknowledge the thin line between success and failure in a world as superficial as it is intoxicating.
 
Richard immediately devotes himself to returning his mother to her former glory. Everything about him—the clothes he wears, the jokes he makes, the college he attends—is calculated to boost Joan’s reputation. But as the years go by and the galleries keep sending back her slides, Richard has to ask: Who wants Joan Freeley’s resurrection more—him or her? And when will his own life start? 
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